Lebanese handbag designer Sarah Beydoun has been fusing her love of design with her passion for social enterprise since launching her namesake label in May 2000. Beydoun, who was inspired by the work she was doing with an NGO as part of her graduate degree in sociology, set up Sarah’s Bag with the aim of empowering underprivileged women by providing them with training and employment.
Since its inception, Sarah’s Bag has been at the forefront of creating unique and luxurious handmade pieces that have been meticulously handcrafted using ancient techniques such as hand beading, embroidery, crocheting and sequinning. Over 200 women, including prisoners, ex-prisoners, and those who are underprivileged, make up the team of artisans behind the creations. The women use the income they make to overturn wrongful convictions and support their families while incarcerated. Once out of prison, they are encouraged to pass along the skills they have learned by training other women in their villages in an effort to create much-needed jobs in poorer Lebanese communities.
Sarah’s Bag designs stand out for their uniqueness in a market saturated with cookie cutter creations. The label prides itself on creating innovative designs and experimenting with new materials like Perspex, resin and wood. Inspired by the traditional Mediterranean backgammon board, the Dama wood and pearl inlay statement clutch is a classic Sarah’s Bag piece and pays homage to the designer’s Lebanese heritage. The oversized Kaffieh clutches have also featured consistently in the collections, representing a modern spin on the traditional Arab Keffiyah. Beydoun has also stayed true to her playful nature by creating various quirky creations like pill Perspex clutches, retro Walkman bags, and vibrant clutches which cheekily feature toy cars as clasps.
Each piece in the most recent collection, which includes statement clutches, bags and totes, was created by Syrian refugees who were trained on these various techniques by the Beirut-based Sarah’s Bag team. With a focus on celebrating the growing women’s rights movement, the whimsical pieces feature powerful statements like “Women of the World Unite”, “Hear Me Roar” and “The Future is Female”.
Sarah’s Bag has been featured in various global publications like Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Vogue and is currently stocked at select high-end retailers around the world, including at the Beirut-based Sarah’s Bag flagship boutique. The brand also boasts an impressive list of famous fans including Amal Clooney and Queen Rania of Jordan.